Bizarre radio signal from space repeats every 16 days

E.T. might be out there phoning home, and Canadian scientists just wiretapped him. A new discovery born of a collaboration between the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment and the Fast Radio Burst Project has scientists as baffled as they are enthusiastic. Over the time period spanning from September 16, 2018 to October 30, 2019, researchers observed a pattern of fast radio bursts that repeated every 16.35 days. It took some time for the scientists from CHIP/FRB to analyze all that data, so the results are only now appearing in scientific journals.

Fast radio bursts are massively energetic beams of radiation that reach Earth in the radio wave spectrum and only last for a few milliseconds. Despite their short shelf life, they carry as much energy as a hundred million suns. Most FRB sources flash once and then are never detected again, making them a difficult phenomenon to study. This one was different, though.

Source of the signal remains unknown

According to the study, scientists observed an FRB source that released a new burst or two every hour for four days before going silent. That, in and of itself, would have been a remarkable observation, but the bursts turned on again after the 12-day quiescent period. These results have already been moderated, though they are awaiting formal peer review.

The anomalous signal is currently known by the cumbersome name FRB 180916.J0158+65. It traces to an origin beyond the Milky Way, in another massive spiral galaxy about 500 million light years away. Obviously, any signal originating from outer space with a discernible pattern is cause enough to get the UFOlogists clambering. The fast radio burst phenomenon, first discovered in 2007 by astronomer Duncan Lorimer, has always been a source of extraterrestrial speculation. This latest discovery is only likely to add fuel to the alien-hunting fire. Cue X-Files music.

Of course, just because we haven't identified the source of these unusual signals doesn't mean it's necessarily aliens. But it also doesn't mean it's not.